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Gettin' My MovNat On

One of my goals this year was to take as much advantage of MovNat and MovNat training as I could, given time and distance.  I've been making a point to attend all of the MovNat Meetups at MovNat Ohio thus far this year, and my workouts have been very natural and full body, to say the least.

This past weekend I upped the ante a bit.  My wife and I attended the MovNat Ohio 1/2-Day Workshop up in Dublin to get a more complete overview of some of the basic techniques and ideas of this fantastic lifestyle.  And it really is a lifestyle more than just a workout regimen or even workout philosophy!

Jenn and I had been to MovNat Ohio before, not just for the Meetups but also to introduce our kids to Lori Crock and Jeff Turner, the owners and trainers there.  The two of them have put together a program for children with autism to use MovNat as a fitness and even a physical therapy tool (which I, obviously, wholeheartedly endorse!).  Some of you may know that my son Duncan is autistic, and we had visited to let them get to know the sorts of things that Duncan was attracted to and was capable of in their facility - as well as see just how he interacted with them as trainers and coaches.  It was a great afternoon and I think it was valuable for both them and us.

But the order of the day was training for ourselves!  And as we sat down in the gym upon arriving, Lori and Jeff told us a bit about their background and their interest in MovNat and the philosophy.  The training started with an explanation of the 10 MovNat Natural Movement Principles, which the MovNat site explains here.  It's really amazing how much these principles jibe with the Paleo lifestyle, and I think it's no mistake that Erwan Le Corre (the founder of MovNat) and folks like Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson have come to similar conclusions while coming at the problem from different starting points.

Starting with those principles, we moved outside (yeah! It was GORGEOUS outside!) and, after a warm-up and some discussion of the proper way to squat, began to work on the most basic movement in MovNat: balancing.  We were immediately shown how MovNat could be done anywhere as we moved to a nearby curb and began to explore all the various ways we could work on balance - walking forward, walking backward, squatting, side-stepping, standing and tossing an item between two people, and more.  Keep in mind we've only hit one of the basic movement skills, and we've done five or six different progressions for training this stuff! Pretty amazing.

Crawling and jumping were topics that we'd discussed at some of the meet ups, but hearing the fundamentals again is always a good thing. As in anything, some points were hammered home a bit differently than before, which got me thinking about the skills in a different way. We crawled down and up a nearby ravine with varying levels of terrain difficulty and got a good idea of how to handle ourselves in crawling situations, keeping in mind efficiency and environment especially as we did so!

Jumping and landing were both discussed at some length, again due to the many possible scenarios we might encounter where jumping and landing might be skills we'd need to draw on! A couple of challenges were put to us - jumping between two logs and jumping across an obstacle (in this case a creek). Both taught us how important it will be to keep up on out skills training as success wasn't quite as forthcoming as we sometimes thought it might be!

The basics of barefoot/minimalist running were the next topic.  I liked the exaggeration of the kick to start out as it really pushed our gait forward slightly and onto our mid-foot as a good barefoot run should be.  And there was some great discussion of things to watch (I had a bit of advice myself on that!) from folks who'd tried it before!

After a short break to refill water bottles and to walk to the next training site (yet another park), we practiced duck-unders using a railing along a path as our guide to getting low-enough.  We got some funny looks from people as we were doing so, but that made it even a bit more fun!  Once we got to a short wall, we worked on some climbing skills with multiple ways to hop and even shimmy onto a surface that was higher up than a simple leap would allow.  Landings were again stressed as we came down - showing how all these skills fit together.

Lifting was next - deadlifting and overhead pressing logs both solo and in partnership with another person.  This was done along a trail where there simply happened to be a lot of logs kicking around.  When done properly, it wasn't difficult at all - demonstrating the principles of efficiency and cooperation from the 10 principles.  A few of us also tried some tree-climbing. I was less successful than some but I got the idea and have something else to work on!

We then changed venues to a nearby playground, and while avoiding the wrathful glares of a couple of kids who wanted to play on the hand-over-hand, we practiced the tripod transition exercise as a demonstration of balance and strength!  I'd been practicing this one for a while after learning it at a meetup, and was pleased to be able to do it without falling off the balance beam I was on.  We also learned traversing a bar and the climbing skill known as the Jungle-up.  This is that nifty looking way that MovNatters have to shimmy up onto a tree branch, and it's easier and harder than it looks all at once.  Easier, because a lot of it is using momentum and leverage to get yourself up instead of just muscling your way up, but harder because you can seriously lose some leg hair and more in doing so - plus it uses muscles that aren't normally as taxed in modern living.  Still, I was able to do it and that was a big happy moment!

To end the day, we headed back to the original park which runs under the bridge on Bridge Street in Dublin, where some rocks of various sizes lay.  Throwing and catching the rocks using a couple of different methods was the skill learned here, and to finish the day off we used a toss not unlike a kettlebell swing to launch the rocks over our heads.

And finally, Jeff and Lori demonstrated how we could link the various skills we'd learned into combos to create obstacle courses for ourselves for a workout.  We linked together a short run, leap over a creek, bodyweight squats, an exercise where we hung from a tree branch and brought our feet up over the branch (a precursor to the Jungle-up), some leaping between logs, crawling up the nearby ravine, and a jog back down to the bridge where a rock-toss was the final step.  We did it twice, and by the end we were all huffing and puffing a bit.  But the message was clear - this stuff was as hard as you wanted to make it, and the possibilities for creating your own workouts were endless!

After the workouts were over, we headed back up to the gym's back porch for some discussion and a bit of Paleo chocolate mousse from Lori's kitchen (don't let anyone fool you, Lori makes some of the tastiest Paleo food you've ever had!).  It was really great to get some input from everyone about their impressions of MovNat and the ways people saw to use it going forward.  I related how it almost felt like the progressions of a martial art - where you start with the simple and slowly add to that, reinforcing the fundamentals and challenging yourself with the new at the same time.  The entire system builds upon itself nicely in this way and makes for a challenging and welcome way to learn and practice the skills.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to attend the workshop.  I've wanted to do MovNat since I first saw the now-famous Erwan Le Corre video "The Workout the World Forgot" and started reading reports from the five-day workshops in West Virginia and elsewhere.

The whole system just makes sense and is full of practicality for all of us.  And Lori and Jeff continually hammered that point home (nicely) with real-life examples of how this could help us via use of the various skills.  Both trainers are very professional and the diversity of their backgrounds (Jeff from a self-described "Gold's Gym Musclehead background" and Lori from a competitive swimming and personal fitness frame of mind) makes for a great combination of skills and focuses as they bring the MovNat world to us.  

I'm also very glad that I've gotten the chance to get to know Jeff and Lori a bit - as they are wonderful people who are totally devoted to passing their knowledge on to those who seek it, as any good mentor wants to do.  They've also joined our Train 4 Autism team for the Mud Ninja race and are going to be holding training sessions for the team once a month leading up to the race.  

It's going to be a fantastic summer and MovNat will be a big part of it, and I'm very grateful to MovNat Ohio for all they're doing to help with that!  


  1. Thanks, Jamie. This has inspired me to look up MovNat in my area (Seattle).


    1. Great to hear and thanks!

      The MovNat HQ page (for lack of a better term) has a couple of resources:

      Partners and Affiliates

      MovNat Certified Trainers


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